Wizardry began as a simple dungeon crawl by Andrew C. Greenberg and Robert Woodhead. It was written when they were students at Cornell University and published by Sir-Tech. The game was influenced by earlier games from the PLATO system, most notably Oubliette. The earliest installments of Wizardry were very successful, as they were the first graphically-rich incarnations of Dungeons & Dragons-type gameplay for home computers. The release of the first version coincided with the height of Dungeons & Dragons' popularity in North America.
The first five games in the series were written in Apple Pascal, an implementation of UCSD Pascal. They were ported to many different platforms by writing UCSD Pascal implementations for the target machines (Mac II cross-development). David W. Bradley took over the series after the fourth installment, adding a new level of plot and complexity. In 1998, the rights were transferred to 1259190 Ontario Inc., and in 2006 to Aeria IPM. In 2008, Aeria IPM merged with Gamepot, the developer of Wizardry Online.